What we know about the United Flight 328 engine explosion over Broomfield – 9News.com KUSA

The Boeing 777 plane engine explosion that rained debris over Broomfield has sparked at least six lawsuits from passengers.

BROOMFIELD, Colo. — An engine attached to United Flight 328 exploded one year ago Sunday, causing debris to rain down over Broomfield and sparking multiple lawsuits.

The Boeing 777 took off with 229 passengers and 10 crew members at 1:06 p.m. on Feb. 20, 2021 from Denver International Airport (DIA) with an intended destination of Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu, Hawaii.

However, the right engine exploded only minutes after takeoff over the Colorado city 18 miles northwest of downtown Denver.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the pilot circled south and east before making an emergency landing at 1:29 p.m. at DIA.

Fortunately, the flight landed safely, and no one on the plane or within the debris field in Broomfield was reported injured.

The 1995 Boeing 777-222, tail number N772UA, was owned by United Airlines. 

PREVIOUS: Boeing 777 airplane parts fall from sky in Broomfield

“We were sitting in our living room minding our own business reading the newspaper when we heard a loud bang. A big boom. We looked at each other and go, what was that?” Kirby Klements told 9NEWS Sunday. “As soon as I open the door, I go, oh, you’re never going to guess what this is.” 

A large part of the engine landed in Klements’ front yard, damaging his truck to the point where it was totaled. 

“We sat here for six months with a damaged truck sitting in our driveway reminding us absolutely every single day of what had happened,” Klements said. “It’s for the most part been frustrating, at the least, because of how long it takes for anything to happen.”

When a plane engine falls out of the sky, Klements has learned the hard way, it brings with it months and months of lawsuits and insurance claims. A year later, he’s still fighting for compensation.

“There was no one from anywhere that contacted us to offer any type of support or apologize or say ‘is there anything you need?’ or ‘what can we do?'” Klements said. 

The Klements have gotten some compensation through a property damage settlement but are still in the process of going through lawsuits for mental and emotional distress. They say they’ve both gone to therapy after that day to help them come to terms with how close they were to that engine landing feet away inside their home where they were sitting.

“My 15 minutes of fame doesn’t make up for all the loss and everything else that goes with it,” Klements said. 

The pieces fell over a four-mile radius when the engine exploded around the Commons Park, Red Leaf and Northmoor Estates neighborhoods.

The largest piece of debris, the engine cowling, landed in a front yard on Elmwood Street near East 13th Avenue. Other pieces of varying sizes landed in yards and streets. One piece punched a hole in the roof of a home.

Visitors to Commons Park, including kids practicing soccer and families at the dog park, ran for cover as chunks of the engine rained down.

> Watch coverage and raw video from Feb. 20, 2021 in the videos below:

The investigation

In a preliminary update released shortly after the explosion, the NTSB said most of the damage to the aircraft was contained to the engine, but the airplane also sustained minor damage.

Overall, the NTSB’s examination of the plane’s Pratt & Whitney PW4077 engine revealed: 

  • The inlet and cowling separated from the engine.
  • Two fan blades were fractured.
    • One fan blade was fractured near the root.
    • An adjacent fan blade was fractured about mid-span.
    • A portion of one blade was embedded in the containment ring.
    • The remainder of the fan blades exhibited damage to the tips and leading edges.

RELATED: United Flight 328: A look at the debris Broomfield officers have collected so far

The cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder were taken to be analyzed at the NTSB laboratory in Washington, D.C. the report said.

Preliminary investigation showed no signs of structural damage to the plane, but there were signs of metal fatigue as well as damage where the wing meets the body, NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said.

Sumwalt added there was an indication that fuel to the fire in the engine was turned off, a question investigators had after seeing videos of the engine on fire. The NTSB is investigating what caused that fire.

United Airlines said in a statement after the explosion that it was “voluntarily and temporarily” taking 24 Boeing 777 airplanes powered by Pratt & Whitney 4000-series engines out of service.

“Since yesterday, we’ve been in touch with regulators at the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and FAA and will continue to work closely with them to determine any additional steps that are needed to ensure these aircraft meet our rigorous safety standards and can return to service. As we swap out aircraft, we expect only a small number of customers to be inconvenienced,” the statement from United read.

United said at the time it had 52 of the affected aircraft in its fleet – 24 active and 28 in storage.

However, in December the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued three proposed changes that could allow the type of Boeing jet involved in the Broomfield incident to take flight again. 

The full directives can be found here.

PREVIOUS: FAA issues directives that could allow Boeing jets to fly again after engine broke apart

Lawsuits filed

An Illinois law firm has filed four lawsuits on behalf of passengers aboard the flight. According to the aviation law firm, the four lawsuits involve a couple from Pennsylvania, a man from Maryland and a man from Hawaii. 

Clifford Law Offices filed two additional lawsuits this month on behalf of passengers from Hawaii and Idaho. 

9NEWS reporter Jennifer Campbell-Hicks contributed previous information to this story.

RELATED: 4 more lawsuits filed on behalf of passengers on the flight that lost engine

RELATED: Specialist to examine United Airlines Flight 328 fractured engine fan blade

SUGGESTED VIDEOS: Investigations from 9Wants to Know

Subscribe to our daily 9NEWSLETTER for top stories from 9NEWS curated daily just for you. Get content and information right now for can’t-miss stories, Next and Broncos content, weather and more delivered right to your inbox.   

iTunes: http://on9news.tv/itunes
Google Play: http://on9news.tv/1lWnC5n  


ROKU: add the channel from the ROKU store or by searching for KUSA. 

For both Apple TV and Fire TV, search for “9NEWS” to find the free app to add to your account. Another option for Fire TV is to have the app delivered directly to your Fire TV through Amazon.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *